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Robert Wilson and Philip Glass: Einstein on the Beach (1976)



Recorded in 1976 on the eve of their American premier at the Met, Robert "Bob" Wilson and Philip Glass speak with Charles Ruas about their fortuitous collaboration in the making of the internationally acclaimed opera, Einstein on the Beach. The two of them discuss their ambitions when setting out to write the piece, as well as their individual contributions and working method. When asked about the visual imagery evoked from the opera's title, they explained how it came towards the end of creating their composition.

Wilson and Glass emphasized their struggles to gain an audience in the United States. While they had an abounding reception in Europe. Written in the spring, summer, and fall of 1975; the four act opera premiered in the summer of 1976 at the Avignon Festival in France. That summer it was also staged in Hamburg, Belgrade, Venice, Brussels, and Rotterdam. It finally made its way for a one night performance at the Metropolitan Opera that November.

Robert Wilson (b. 1941) is an American playwright and influential experimental theater director. He has also worked as a performer and is a recognized visual artist. In the late 1960's he founded the Byrd Hoffman School of Byrds, an experimental theater company. Since that time, he has directed stage pieces around the world, altering the face, pace, and place of opera and musical theater forever. In 1984, he planned a performance for the summer Olympics and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize later that year. In addition to Glass, Wilson has collaborated with Tom Waits, William Burroughs, and Lady Gaga.

Philip Glass (b. 1937) is an American composer. He is considered by many to be one of the most influential music makers in the late 20th Century; a founding force in minimalist and pattern music that forever changed the landscape. In the late 1950's he studied at the Julliard School of Music. While abroad and in New York, he established formative relationships with members of the theater and visual arts community.; including Sol LeWitt, Bruce Nauman, Chuck Close, and Laurie Anderson. Glass has been nominated for several Academy Awards for his work in film composition, and countless other awards for his staged works and compositions.